Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Signs Of Spring

When I pulled in to work this morning, these daffodils (Narcissus) emerging out of frozen soil caught my eye.  I'm sure we'll see more "signs of life" over the coming weeks and I'll tour the gardens again tomorrow to get a feel for the scope of our spring clean-up efforts and priorities (not insubstantial to say the least).  It's amazing that two years ago we had such an early spring that daffodils were almost done blooming by now with everything blooming 6-8 weeks in advance.  I don't mind a gradual warming which will allow us to finish cutting back ornamental grasses, tidying up and finishing the take down of the Holiday Lights Show (HLS).  While there is evidence of deer damage and a record amount of rabbit damage, I've seen worse (collectively) out in the gardens in the past and look forward to more plants poking out of the ground.
We had a productive day today with some great volunteer assistance.  Pat was in for most of the day and continued processing HLS lights, cords, etc.  Pat has been our "constant" for steady HLS work and we should be able to finish up by the end of the month (ideally).  Below (left to right) are Gena, Myrt (inside the pyramid!) and Nancy.  The ladies converted this pyramid (one of three) from orange to pink (for the entrance garden theme) and also repainted some large obelisks for the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  This garden will feature the second year of the "Pollinator's Paradise" theme..  Urban stopped by for some pruning efforts out in the gardens and Janice was in for significant office work related to our big symposium this upcoming Saturday.  We also saw Big John, Mark S. and many others.  I'm continuing to prepare our seeds for growers and the second photo down shows some of my spreadsheet with our cosmos listing.  We'll have well over 60 varieties to display side by side and many of these selections will also find a home in the "Pollinator's Paradise" theme.  The colorful green door (third photo down) will be mounted and operational out in one of our thematic collections (more to follow on that!).  Larry ran errands and spent time collecting HLS elements out in the gardens.
Janice and I chatted about our Thomas Jefferson Collection for this year (and 2015) and I am organizing seeds for that collection today as well.  The photo above is from a neat "holographic?" post card that Janice bought at Monticello when she visited last summer.  Janice has connected significantly with Monticello gardening staff and they have been supportive of our collection and have even shared some seeds.  We also ordered seed for this collection directly from Monticello and ultimately will display over 100 selections (all with informative signs) of historic vegetables, herbs, flowers, etc. that Jefferson grew.  We're very excited about this collection and will be trying out some plants that we've not displayed in the past.  Patrea continues to update us with her comprehensive research efforts.  Regardless, this should be very fun and educational (for us as well as our visitors!).  It's amazing not only how much Jefferson grew in terms of the scope of varieties but how many of those selections are still available and are grown so many years later.  Jefferson certainly "grew local" and many have classified him as the original "Founding Foodie" or "Foodie President".  Below are just some of the many selections that we'll obtain and feature.  We have taken some liberty with varieties of the species Jefferson grew but the historic relevance will certainly not be lost in this informative and beautiful collection.
purple orach (Atriplex hortensis)
white eggplant (Solanum melongena)
red celery (Apium graveolens)
Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris)
garden sage (Salvia officinalis) - this is the variety 'Berggarten'
dinosaur kale (Brassica oleracea 'Lacinato')
striped marigold (Tagetes patula)
purple hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab)

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